No slam dunk on spent American car batteries getting recycled sustainably

To those owning cars, I ask: Is there anything more disconcerting than the car not starting due to a battery depleted of charge?

Unless one has a battery recharger handy or is able to get a jumpstart courtesy of another, it more or less means that requesting tow-truck or road-side assistance will be in order.

Being a car owner I can most definitely relate.

Speaking of which, ever wonder what the disposition of used or spent car batteries is?

Well, wonder no more. In an article titled: As U.S. tightens rules on lead emissions, battery recycling has moved to Mexico,” McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Tim Johnson wrote: “Most American consumers are accustomed to turning in their spent car batteries when buying new ones, pleased to take part in a successful recycling program but unaware of how it takes place.”

No big deal?

Lead acid batteries are hazardous waste materials and recycling of such is a must, according to Johnson. And how these batteries are recycled matters. But upon reading the Johnson article in full, one might not be so sure.

“Mexico has won a leg up for a reason: Its lead emissions standards are one-tenth as stringent as U.S. standards,” the McClatchy correspondent in question acknowledged. “Mexican factories can ignore strict U.S. regulations that cap harmful lead emissions onto factory floors and into the air.”

Not a very comforting thought, especially when one considers, “Scientists now say that exposure to lead – even in minute quantities – can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney damage and neurological disorders. Ten months ago, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that ‘there is no safe level of lead.’”

If this is, in fact, fact, it would seem U.S. car battery disposal would be handled in the most responsible way, which means also, the most sustainable way.

No ‘slam dunk’

Added Johnson: “U.S. recyclers have some of the world’s top technology for safely breaking apart batteries to smelt the lead for reuse. But U.S. recycling plants are closing down or standing idle.

“Plants in Mexico are not.”

Which, by the way, implies, basically it is hit or miss in terms of where used or spent American car batteries end up.

To reiterate: Not a very comforting thought.

– Alan Kandel

1 thought on “No slam dunk on spent American car batteries getting recycled sustainably”

  1. Battery recycling is very important. It’s also great to have batteries that are rechargeable so that we don’t keep on disposing of batteries that are not anymore in use. I am just concern with those peple that are not aware of the hazardous chemical that is present in these batteries. Lead is a very harmful chemical present in the batteries. These can contaminate our water and can stay there for several years.

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